Archive for the ‘What Works’ Category

Effectiveness of stop & frisk

March 14, 2019

Over-reliance on stop & frisk in some U.S. cities has been criticized in recent years, while “stop & search” is currently hotly debated in the U.K. as a response to increased violence, especially knife crime. This new paper summarizes existing evidence on whether these practices reduce crime and adds analysis of police and crime data from London. The evidence indicates a marginal effect when stop & search is applied in conjunction with targeted “hot spots” interventions, but little if any impact when it is implemented more widely. Also noted is huge variation in usage of the practice between otherwise comparable forces, suggesting that politics and police culture are driving strategy more than scientific evidence.


Tech solutions

March 8, 2019

Two articles out today illustrate potential benefits from modern technology. One describes a mobile app that enables police officers handling a mental health incident to “video chat a physician, therapist or case worker to evaluate the patient at the scene and direct them to a clinic or mental hospital instead of the ER” — pilot testing found a 22% reduction in ER and jail visits saving an average of $847 per call, as reported here. The other describes a test of augmented/virtual reality in disaster response training for EMS personnel — “People who trained on the digital model were 45% more accurate and nearly 30% faster … than those who only received traditional classroom training,” as reported here.

North Dakota may outlaw DUI checkpoints

February 22, 2019

The lower house of the North Dakota legislature has passed a bill outlawing DUI checkpoints by a 79-14 vote, with state senate action pending, as reported here. Data indicated limited checkpoint usage in recent years with relatively few DUI arrests. The bill’s sponsor called the checkpoints “cliched” and said they had been “proven inadequate.” Evidence from prior studies suggests that checkpoints can reduce fatal crashes, but only when they are reasonably frequent and highly publicized.

Traffic stops, crashes, and crime

February 20, 2019

A recent analysis of traffic stop data in Nashville found an especially high level of traffic enforcement — as of 2017, the per-capita stop rate was nearly 4 times higher than for similar-sized cities, even after a substantial drop since 2012. Also, about half of all stops were for non-moving violations, which contributed to disproportionate impact. Analysis showed no effect on crime of the 40% decrease in stops from 2012 to 2017, but traffic crashes increased about 60%. The findings call into question whether intensive traffic enforcement is an effective approach to crime reduction, but also serve as a reminder that road safety is another outcome to be considered in regard to “what works” in policing.

Resilience training

February 8, 2019

This new COPS Office publication describes resilience training being tested in the Milwaukee Police Department. Initial results indicate some positive early-career effects on new officers who get the training in the academy, but no significant impact on mid-career officers who get it later as in-service training. Final results are pending but will include “development of a model to guide effective delivery of resilience training at the academy and … validation of the effectiveness of this training for recruits.”

Police Foundation

February 6, 2019

You may know that the Police Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded back in 1970 for the purpose of improving policing through innovation and science. They recently changed their official name to the National Police Foundation to avoid confusion, since numerous local law enforcement agencies now have their own foundations. They have a very useful and informative website here. To sign up for their free newsletter and other publications and updates, go here.

Speeding & traffic safety

January 29, 2019

The Governors Highway Safety Association has released a report on speeding and traffic safety, available here. The report notes “most traffic exceeds posted speed limits, and this culture is mutually reinforced between drivers, policymakers and many transportation stakeholders” and laments “current cultural obsessions with fast cars, horsepower, racing, and a clear, ongoing interest and willingness to move fast.” The report compares states, discusses specific risks related to impaired driving, distracted driving, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles, and reviews evidence supporting traffic safety measures such as traffic calming, roundabouts, and automated enforcement.

Short-term results from foot patrol in San Francisco

December 6, 2018

This article reports a 17% drop in thefts and 19% drop in assaults in San Francisco following reassignment of 69 officers to foot patrol in 2017. The main target was thefts, especially from autos, which had nearly doubled since 2010, from 2,100 per month to over 4,000, with a very low clearance rate. Analysis by UC-Berkeley documented the decline in offenses over the first few months of the initiative, while controlling for other variables. However, “the additional foot patrols didn’t impact the city’s other most-frequently reported crime categories, including robbery, burglary … vandalism and vehicle theft.”

Pain in the … back

October 31, 2018

This article reports a study by the Eau Claire, Wisconsin PD testing the impact on back pain of the traditional duty belt versus a load-bearing vest. The police partnered with local researchers to carry out the 6-month study in which 30 officers rotated between the two equipment options. Participants reported less pain wearing the vests and the department will make the switch. Besides the relief for officers, a deputy chief noted “Lost time due to injury or medical cost related to back injuries are significant and the entire community shares that cost.”

Proactive non-enforcement in hot spots

September 29, 2018

This blog post summarizes a study of foot-patrol hot spot policing in Newark, New Jersey. Enforcement actions (arrests, stops, and summonses) did not result in violent crime decreases, but other forms of proactive policing were apparently more effective — collectively, increased citizen contacts, business checks, bus checks, and taxi inspections were associated with a drop of over 50% in violent crime in the target areas, with no evidence of displacement.